Sure, to visit this area in August or September will be most spectacular – the heath is in blossom and looks like a violet sea, very impressive. But every other time of the year this area is worth a visit: in fall the colours vary between reddish and brown, on sunny days the morning dew glitters in the sun and you get roast of heath sheep (Heidschnucke), a specialty of the region. The heath sheep, a direct decedent of the Mufflon perfectly adjusted to the environment, is grazing during the summer season from meadow to meadow, guarded by a shepherd and his dog – can´t be more natural.
Luneburg and the salt
Even though Luneburg is the name giving town of the area, you won`t find the typical heath landscape here, but it still is a good spot to start your tour through the Luneburger Heath. Luneburg is located on top of a salt dome and owned the exclusive right for salt trade in northern Europe for more than 1000 years. The salt was important to cure meat and fish, for example herring from the Baltic sea, to make it durable in times, when the refrigerator wasn´t invented yet. On the river Ilmenau, at that time navigable, the salt was shipped to the Baltic Sea and from there all over northern Europe. This is the reason, why Luneburg still belongs to the Hanseatic League. Also read: Luneburg at the historic salt route
Foodie tour Luneburger Heath
Here in the Luneburger Heath the sheep are called Schnucken, so if you see Heidschnucken on the menu, you get served a variation of the local specialty. Even if you´re not a fan of sheep meat you should give it a try – Heidschnucken meat tastes more like game than mutton. The Heidschnucken herd lives outside, guarded by a shepherd and plays the most important role to beware the typical landscape: during the summer month it keeps the upcoming sprouts short and prevents the open space landscape, in fall it destroys the spider webs on the ground and makes room for the bees to bring the harvest in.
Actually, the honey from the heath (in German: Heidehonig) is another specialty of the region: dark brown and creamy, intense flavor and not to sweet. Has the potential to become your favorite honey!
Heath potatoes (Heidekartoffeln) – tasty and healthy
Since potatoes love loose and dry ground, the Luneburger Heath produces very special potatoes, in fact, it´s a protected and listed name and you find many potato farms which sell directly from the farm. But like I mentioned beforehand, you won`t find heath in Luneburg. Actually, the picture book heath-juniper-sheep-landscape is not easy to find, this is why I listed some nice spots, all within 100 kilometers:
Weseler Heide/Undeloh: Undeloh is a very touristy village but easy to reach from the highway, perfect for a side-trip while you travel through northern Germany. Two options:
- you park your car in Undeloh and hike to Wilsider Berg in the midst of heath landscape (or you take a horse carriage)
- You drive through Undeloh direction Wesel, after ca 2 km you find a parking lot to your right hand side. Park the car and walk along the trail, it takes you right into the tranquility of the typical heath
Büsenbachtal: idyllic valley, great for hiking, not touristy at all, part of the Heidschnuckenweg. Leave the car at the parking lot Büsenbachtal (Kiosk Büsenbachtal, Am Büsenbach, 21256 Handeloh) and get on the trail, which runs along the small broke. Pretty soon the valley opens to a beautiful heath landscape, it takes ca 1,5 hours to get to the Pferdekopf, a high ground overlooking the heath.
Very close to the parking lot you find the Café Am Schafstall with homemade cakes and a wonderful atmosphere, try the Buchweizentorte, a local specialty.
Celle marks the south end of the Luneburger Heath
The market square in Celle is seamed with half timbered houses, completely original, the castle with the baroque interior is open for visits.
HUTH’s Kaffee und Feinkost: since we couldn`t find a restaurant in town worth to recommend, we dropped into Huth`s shop and got stuff for a culinary picnic: cheese, wine, cookies – everything delicious! The park beside the castle offers sunny benches for a foodie-picnic.
Foodie map Luneburger Heath